20 May 2013 by Catherine Baksi
Court interpreters reject new contract deal
Courts are being disrupted on a ‘daily basis’ as interpreters continue to boycott the private sector contract for translation services, despite a peace move by the Ministry of Justice, an interpreters group claimed this week.
The ministry last month revealed that it would foot the bill for a 22% rise in payments made to court interpreters in a bid to attract more to work under a controversial contract with Capita that has been blamed for widespread disruption over the past 15 months.
Professional Interpreters for Justice, an umbrella group of interpreters’ organisations that oppose the contract, said their members have rejected the new deal and will still not work for the company.
The group wants to see the contract, which has been criticised by two high-profile parliamentary committees and the National Audit Office, scrapped.
The group claims that ‘incidences of interpreter no-shows and poor-quality interpreting’ are disrupting courts on a ‘daily basis’.
A hearing in a quadruple murder case at Nottingham Crown Court was postponed this month after a Mandarin interpreter booked for defendant Anxiang Du failed to turn up.
Mr Justice Flaux told the court that his clerk had received a message saying it was ‘not worthwhile’ for the interpreter to turn up because they ‘would not make enough money’. He described the situation as ‘a complete disgrace’.
A Capita spokeswoman said the firm at no time refused to provide an interpreter on ‘cost or any other grounds’.
She said: ‘After the original interpreter booked to attend the hearing was unable to attend, Capita Translation and Interpreting worked to secure a replacement.
‘The replacement interpreter could not attend until 2:30pm and we communicated this, in good time, to the court.’